A reader writes about growing up in the South. She brings back memories to me of growing up in Houston when it was segregated:
I don’t think PUBLIC schools should be catering to one ethnic or religious group either and I don’t think that schools that do so should receive public money. I grew up under segregation. My high school integrated when I was in the 11th grade. The chemistry teacher asked if I minded being lab partners with ”the colored girl”. I was never a racist, even having grown up in Birmingham, so of course I didn’t mind and Portia Montgomery and I screwed up our lab experiments all year.
I can see why certain religious or ethnic groups with non-mainstream practices might want to have their own schools. I don’t have a problem with that as long as we don’t pay for it. There was a Hebrew School in Atlanta where many Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox Jewish children attended. Many lived in the neighborhood around their school and synagogue They wore their special clothing and curled sideburns and hats. They did not have school on Fridays because of the Sabbath. I understood that as well as the Kroger grocery with its separation of foods, separate kosher meat department, rabbi butcher, and huge, about 1/3 of the store, Jewish section. The store was also decorated for Hannukah instead of Christmas and their school choir sang Hannukah carols at the store. My tax money did not go to any of it. It was fine.
What I cannot see is public schools bowing down to the needs of the religious right or even recognizing particular races or religious groups exclusively or nearly so. Sometimes it was difficult in my early years in Atlanta Public Schools which, at the time were 90% black for students and 75% for faculty. There was discrimination against everyone else. A principal at one middle school made several stereotyped remarks against me as a white person and eventually got rid of me for teaching while white. She also ran off ALL her white students who were not special ed. She had her eye on one of mine but did not realize he was biracial. The schools were extremely Afro-centric, at least the ones where I was. But because I was only at two where there was a problem with racism towards me and because I was liberal, flexible, older, special ed., and married to a black guy, it did not really bother me. And I learned a whole lot of black history.